Northeastern Section (45th Annual) and Southeastern Section (59th Annual) Joint Meeting (13-16 March 2010)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:05 PM


COLE, Lauren K.1, HERBERT, Caitlin1 and ASHMANKAS, Cristin2, (1)Natural Sciences, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA 02138, (2)Natural Science and Mathematics, Lesley University, 29 Everett Street, Cambridge, MA 02138,

As global climate change raises average temperatures worldwide, coastal storms are expected to increase in intensity and frequency (Webster et al, 2006; Meehl et al, 2000). During hurricanes, Nor’easters, and other major storms, rapidly moving water tends to erode coastal areas by transporting sediments from the shoreline area, and depositing the sand offshore (USGS). In order to develop a prediction model of erosion rates along the Massachusetts coast, we chose 30 different sites north of Cape Cod, and collected core samples of sand deposits located on the foreshore. Samples were taken from a variety of locations including barrier islands, exposed, semi-exposed, and shielded mainland coasts. Each month from June through August 2009, we collected three samples from each site and took measurements of the beach width from the high tide line to a natural or artificial barrier, usually dunes or seawalls. Each sample was sorted for grain size and distribution. We intend to establish a correlation between the coarsening of sediments, storm activity, and erosion rates, which can be further developed with more data analysis in subsequent years. As expected, we experienced a coarsening of sediments at many sample locations with the storm activity present in the summer of 2009. These initial results will establish a baseline for future data collection in upcoming years, eventually developing a more accurate prediction model for long-term erosion rates and determining paleo-storm intensity. This information will be useful to homeowners, businesses, investors, and public properties located on or near coastal regions.